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Barnett attacks Gillard, loses respect for McGowan

Fly-in, fly-out workers should be regarded as Australia's "modern day heroes", Premier Colin Barnett says, akin to the men who built the nation-defining Snowy Mountains irrigation scheme.

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As an employer of a variety of trades in the WA labour market I have seen a decline in the requirement for skilled Labour, which can be directly linked to the decline in the Contruction sector (mining in particular). There is no need for Federal government intervention on the 457 market as it will decline naturally. If the federal government is so concerned with local people getting jobs maybe they should have a look at the reduction in training based incentives they have implemented in the past week. Companies require skilled workers and if they cannot source them then training is the next best option. It's a simple case of productivity being eroded by latent policy that panders to the vocal minority. Lets not forget that the Mining industry directly employs less than 10% of this nations workforce, but delivers much more revenue to governments in taxes and royalties. Productivity requires flexibility and neither is being addressed effectively. With goal posts changing consistently, how are businesses expected to have the confidence to grow, let alone maintain their competitiveness.

It is true that FIFO workers are engaged in Nation building work. Unfortunately a large number of them are installing foreign made machinery and structures. If Mr Barnett is so keen on nation building he should concentrate all his effort on import replacement. Our neighbors to the north plan their economic future carefully, they are very keen to take on as much skilled work as they can because it is obvious that nation building needs a strong foundation of skilled workers. They know that a strong skill base is developed over several generations and is integral to a strong manufacturing industry. In order to move their economies to the next level and support further development our competitors are grabing every bit of work they can. Meanwhile Australia is erroding its skills base and undermining its chances of advancement, we have fallen behind our peers because we consistently fail to put ourselves first when it comes to skilled work opportunities. Plenty of flat earth economists argue that cheap overseas labour is a good reason for them to get work which could be done here. I would argue that that is a short sighted view and that the lessons learned by the US should be heeded, those economists will cite WTO rules, well our competitors are playing hard ball, we need to get in the game. Hollowing out our economy to please a few economists is wrong headed, our policy makers must take immediate action to make our firms competitive so we can win the high value work which will drive our economy, they have sat on their hands while many good opportunities for real nation building have gone off-shore because they were too timid to act. If they get the policy settings right the FIFO workers can proudly install machines made in WA

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